Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Super-intelligence: A. E. Van Vogt - "Asylum"

Another SF short story which made an impression on me as a young teen. I was fascinated by this graphic description of what reality would be like to someone of immense intelligence.

The observer here, apparently a reporter named Bill Leigh, suddenly discovers he is actually the personality overlay of a covert 'Great Galactic' operative .. with an IQ of 1,200!

"The room and the girl in it changed, not physically, but subjectively, in what he saw, in the details.

Details burned at him; furniture and design that a moment before had seemed a flowing, artistic whole, abruptly showed flaws, hideous errors in taste and arrangement and structure.

His gaze flashed out to the garden, and in instants tore it to mental shreds.Never in all his existence had he seen or felt criticism on such a high,devastating scale.

Only - Only it wasn't criticism. Actually. The mind was indifferent. It saw things. Automatically, it saw some of the possibilities; and by comparison the reality suffered.

It was not a matter of anything being hopelessly bad. The wrongness was frequently a subtle thing. Birds not suited, for a dozen reasons, to their environment. Shrubs that added infinitesimal discord not harmony to the superb garden.

The mind flashed back from the garden; and this time, for the first time, studied the girl. On all Earth, no woman had ever been so piercingly examined. The structure of her body and her face, to Leigh so finely, proudly shaped, so gloriously patrician - found low grade now.

An excellent example of low-grade development in isolation.That was the thought, not contemptuous, not derogatory, simply an impression by an appallingly direct mind that saw - overtones, realities behind realities,a thousand facts where one showed. There followed crystal-clear awareness of the girl's psychology, objective admiration for the system of isolated upbringing that made Klugg girls such fine breeders; and then - Purpose!"

Here's a summary of 'Asylum'.
" two fugitive Dreeghs – energy vampires that suck blood and use energy – land on Earth. They are in dire need of blood and attack two humans right away to restore themselves. They then bury their spaceship under a New York restaurant where they dwell.

The murders shock the people on earth because murder is almost unheard of since Dr. Ungarn – currently residing on an asteroid near the Jupiter moon of Europa – devised serum to rid most of mankind of its murderous impulses. The story is investigated and reported by one of the world’s most recognized reporters – Bill Leigh. Soon after the publication of his article, he is invited by a stranger to his favorite New York restaurant to dine in a private room.

Leigh arrives and soon is joined by a young woman who hastily takes him through a secret door to a subterranean chamber where the Dreeghs are living. The young woman confronts them and warns the Dreegh that Earth is to be left alone. As a lower, fugitive race, the Dreegh will be dealt with most harshly.

Leigh is stunned and isn’t sure how to report this story and make it believable. But before he can, he is kidnapped by the Dreegh who use their mental powers to convince him to travel to the asteroid where Dr. Ungarn lives to destroy him and his daughter. The Dreegh suspect that the Ungarns are agents of the Great Galactics who will prevent them from settling and taking over Earth.

Leigh manages to hitch a ride on the freighter that routinely transports supplies to Dr. Ungard’s laboratory near Jupiter with no idea what his real intentions are, other than to find the girl who he met on Earth that he is sure is Patricia Ungard. They arrive on the asteroid and just as they are meeting with the Ungards, the two Dreegh arrive and capture them. They inform the group that more Dreegh are on the way and that this vanguard against their invasion of this solar system will be destroyed.

As the Dreegh prepare to draw the life force out of their three victims, a powerful mental force awakens in Leigh and he is able to slay the Dreegh before they can harm Patricia or her father. He is then contacted by a higher intelligence that informs him that he has never really been Bill Leigh, reporter. He learns that it is he who is one of the supreme beings of the Great Galactics. Leigh, unable to comprehend all this, jumps into a small space shuttle and flees to earth."
"Asylum" is better known as the first part of A. E. Van Vogt's "fix-up" novel "Supermind", which postulated  "... on an IQ curve that would include humans, Kluggs, Lennels and Dreeghs, the respective averages would be 100, 220, 380, and 450 ... ".

Sadly not available on Kindle.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Keep it polite and no gratuitous links to your business website - we're not a billboard here.